If silver-tongued devils are people known for flattery, what does that make a golden-tongued mummy? The first thing that comes to mind might be the creepy scene in 1999’s The Mummy when Imhotep takes the eyes and tongue of an unfortunate archaeologist. Thankfully, this story doesn’t take a dark turn. According to an Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities Facebook post, archaeologists recently uncovered mummies with tongues made of gold. Historians believe ancient Egyptians practiced this funerary ritual to ensure the dead could speak for themselves in the court of Osiris, god of the underworld.
Researchers found many other adornments with the golden-tongued mummies, including jars, pots, and jewelry. They also uncovered golden scarab beetles and lotus flowers. Those performing the burials placed painted eyes over the eyes of the deceased to help them see in the afterlife. They buried the mummies in wooden coffins with brass nails, pieces of which the archaeologists discovered as well.
The methods used in mummification changed over many years. The golden tongues were a popular practice during the Greco-Roman period that lasted from 332 B.C. to 395 A.D.. The find, which we saw in Live Science, came during an excavation near Quesna, a city north of Cairo. Archaeologists in other areas of Egypt have found golden tongues before. They believe the tongues also help the dead taste all the goods brought with them into the afterlife. Though scientists are still studying the artifacts, they discovered the mummies in rooms that include multiple burial layers, meaning they were likely used over the course of many years.
It’s probably not the best idea to get ancient Egyptian history lessons from pop culture like The Mummy and Moon Knight, but there are some mythological insights in both. Who can forget the hippo goddess Taweret shuttling souls to the afterlife, golden tongues and all?
Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth.